Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#VegasHalloween (day 4): The beginning of the end

Our final day together in Vegas began with a cheap breakfast. A very cheap breakfast.

We all met before 10 a.m. and headed down the highway, the Boulder Highway. I enjoy gawking at all of the down-and-out motels that extend east of the Fremont Street Experience. It's an interesting look back at a simpler time, when hotels didn't need to be named Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn or Courtyard by Marriott. Unfortunately I'm always the driver on these excursions, so I can't gawk as much as I'd like to. Old buildings, especially those that are abandoned, always fascinate me.

I suggested a road trip during our visit as an excuse to experience a cheap breakfast. Thanks to the roundup of bargains by Las Vegas Advisor, our destination was Klondike Sunset Casino, a small, locals joint that had recently opened up, and was offering a $1.48 breakfast special before 11 a.m.

Cheap breakfast often means a mediocre breakfast, but not at the Klondike. Two eggs, toast, hash browns and meat came with the $1.48 meal, and it was well done. I would have liked a larger serving of hash browns, but they didn't skimp on my bacon. I added a pancake as a side order and my meal was still dirt cheap.

A couple of people chose a different breakfast special, but it was still very cheap, and everybody was happy with their meal. Add in a few drinks for those who enjoy coffee and our total bill for five people, prior to tip, was about $27. Insane!

The restaurant was nice and the casino seemed like a decent little room. There were no tables, just machines, but if you're a local who wants to play a slot machine or video poker machine and eat cheap, the Klondike seems like a nice place to go. According to online resources, the casino has a bit of a history, much to my surprise.

I had no plans to stop at Sam's Town, Eastside Cannery or Joker's Wild during our trip to the outskirts of the Vegas area, but we did stop at the Skyline Casino for a few minutes. I had to try their $1.49 shrimp cocktail, finally. I wouldn't have made a trip out to Henderson just for the shrimp cocktail, but when in Rome...

The cheap shrimp cocktail also comes at the recommendation of Las Vegas Advisor. And it was pretty good shrimp for the money. I wish I could find a decent shrimp cocktail for less than two bucks on Fremont Street, but that ship sailed several years ago.

I offered to buy a shrimp cocktail for anyone who wanted one, but only Mike took me up on it. Not everyone subscribes to "when in Rome," evidently.

After a cameo at Skyline, and a picture of Jon and a giant hot dog, we weaved our way to Seven Magic Mountains, the art installation in the desert. Travel south toward the California border and you'll pass it about five miles south of the M Resort. The Seven Magic Mountains are a series of colorful, stacked rocks. It's pretty nifty, although I wouldn't say it's a must see attraction.

What is that hot dog doing with its left hand?

We took group pictures while we were there and I shot a live video via Facebook during our visit. The woman who asked us to take her picture while she was doing a headstand was an added bonus.

We saw colorful rocks!
We were treated to a free show at Seven Magic Mountains.

Following the magic mountains we headed back downtown. Our afternoon was a bit unscheduled and erratic. Jon and Trista wanted to spend time at the pool, although the Plaza hot tub was out of commission, and there wasn't much sun to be had on the pool deck. They decided to spend a little cash and lounge at the Golden Nugget pool. The Nugget charges $30 per person for access to their pool, but there's a 2-for-1 coupon, good on Wednesdays only, in the Las Vegas Advisor coupon book. It was a Wednesday, so they used it.

Joe, Mike and I headed down the street to the Fremont Arcade. I was happy to see an arcade with pinball machines at Neonopolis, and this arcade did not disappoint. (I have said more than once the past few years that Neonopolis needed an annex of the Pinball Hall of Fame.)

Fremont Arcade has about a dozen pinball machines, most of which are games that have been produced within the past five years. There are also modern video games, the type that don't interest me much. But Fremont Arcade also has the "world's largest" Pac-Man. It's classic Pac-Man, played on a huge video screen. I couldn't pass up playing one of my childhood favorites on a giant screen.

I like what they're doing at Fremont Arcade, although it doesn't have a lot to offer those who are seeking classic games. It's no replacement for my visits to the Pinball Hall of Fame, but it's nice to see new, well-maintained pinball machines downtown. I hope it succeeds, as there's a shortage of places to play pinball these days.

After we finished we found a bar at the Fremont Casino to have cheap drinks while we waited for Jon and Trista to wrap up their afternoon at the pool. Game 7 of the World Series was beginning, and I was interested in seeing some of the game.

Between inning I was inexplicably struck with inspiration. As a reader of the Vital Vegas blog, I find myself trading quips with its author, Scott, now and then. Knowing he worked downtown, I decided to send a random tweet to see if he was around. It was after 5 p.m., and he's known to hang out on Fremont, so I sent him a note via Twitter, inviting him to come find a guy he had never met. After a sarcastic quip or two from Scott, and an appearance at the wrong bar area at the casino, he found me.

Given we're both fans of Captain Morgan and diet cola, I ordered us a round. (Scott is a bit famous for his consumption of the spiced rum.) We proceeded to chat about a variety of Vegas topics during the short window of time we had to trade stories. Even though we had never met, and our previous communication had been limited to Twitter exchanges, we could have killed an hour without thinking twice. I'm not sure all writers have the gift of gab, but put two writers together who share an interest in a subject and you'll easily travel down a road that may not have an exit ramp for quite some time.

Fortunately for Scott, Jon and Trista joined us at the bar and everybody in my group was ready to eat dinner. I told my friends to get in line for the Fremont buffet and said I'd join them in a few minutes, as there's always a line for that buffet, from my limited experience. I bid farewell to Scott and went to join my friends, only to find out there wasn't much of a line for "steak night" at the buffet. I'd never seen the buffet so empty. It was 6 p.m., prime time for dinner, and yet the buffet was half empty. Go figure.

And yes, we had Las Vegas Advisor coupons reducing the price of our meals.

Following dinner we headed back to the Plaza and went our separate ways for a while. I went up to my room to continue watching the World Series, and watched as the Chicago Cubs gave away their lead in the eighth inning, and then had to sit through a rain delay before winning the game in the 10th inning.

I decided I should head down to the sports book to watch the end of the game and hear the cheers if the Cubs were to hold onto the lead they regained in the top of the 10th inning. It was a dramatic finish, but the Cubs won it, and several Cubs fans celebrated. I, wearing a Chicago White Sox hat, went over to a couple of dudes who fell on the floor hugging each other in celebration. White Sox fans are supposed to hate the Cubs, and vice versa, but I wanted to congratulate them, as I knew what it was like to wait a lifetime for my team to win a World Series. The White Sox won their first World Series of my lifetime in 2005, and their first World Series in 88 years.

Before gambling that night I met with Gary, a manager at the Plaza. He had helped me book my rooms, thanks to his networking on the Vegas Message Board forums, and suggested I stop in and see him while I was staying at the Plaza. I'm not a high roller, but he was able to reduce our room rates a bit and wanted to know how our experience was at the Plaza. Overall my group was happy with our stay. The Plaza is an older property at the end of the Fremont canopy, but they're doing a lot of good things there. It was my first time staying at their hotel, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

After meeting with Gary I met Jon, Trista and Mike. Joe was enjoying live music on Fremont Street, but the rest of us cruised the strip after dark. It was about 11 p.m., so traffic wasn't bad. We drove all the way down to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, where we stopped for pictures, and then headed back toward downtown. My iPhone pictures at the sign sucked. Here's proof:

Sometimes you need a real camera to capture a moment adequately. 

Our return trip included a stop at Frankie's Tiki Room. Great, unique drinks in a quirky 24-hour bar. It's worth experiencing at least once if you visit Vegas with any regularity.

Upon our arrival at the Plaza I headed to the tables. I had planned to spend a few hours gambling that night, and it started after midnight.

I had lousy luck at the tables on my final night, unfortunately. I lost some of my previous night's profits playing Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em, and I played craps for a while, with no luck. I finished even at craps after about an hour, however, so I guess that was a win. In the wee hours of the morning Joe, Jon, Trista and Mike made their way through the casino floor and found me at the craps table. It turns out that they all went down to Main Street Station. Jon hadn't had a chance to try their microbrews, and while they were there a guy from another group insisted upon buying shots for my friends. It sounds like the two groups had a good time, and given I didn't win money, I wish I had wound up with them instead of refunding my profit at the tables.

Click here for day 5 and 6. 

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